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It was not easy… we’re so used to celebrate the GNU Health Conference (GHCon) and the International Workshop on eHealth in Emerging Economies (IWEEE) in a physical location, that changing to a virtual conference was challenging. At the end of the day, we are about Social Medicine, and social interaction is a key part of it.

The pandemic has changed many things, including the way we interact. So we decided to work on a Big Blue Button instance, and switch to virtual hugs for this year. Surprisingly, it work out very well. We had colleagues from Gabon, Brazil, Japan, Austria, United States, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Chile, Belgium, Jamaica, England, Greece and Switzerland. We didn’t have any serious issues with the connectivity, and all the live presentations went fine. Time zone difference among countries was a bit challenging, specially to our friends from Asia, but they made it!

Social Medicine, health literacy and patient activation

The non-technical talks covered key aspects in Social Medicine, Citizens, health literacy, patient activation and Global digital health records, given by Dr. Richard Fitton, Steve and Oliver, two of his patients. Armand Mpassy talked about the challenges about GNU Health for IT illiterate Case study: Patient workflow at the outpatient service.

Individual privacy and crypto

On privacy and cryptography subjects, we had talks from Isabela Bagueros from Tor, Surviving the surveillance pandemic, Ricardo Morte Ferrer on A proposal for the implementation of a Whistleblower Channel in GNU Health, and Florian Dold on GNU Taler: A payment system by the GNU Project.

openSUSE Leap, packaging GNU Health and Orthanc

On operating systems, Doug Demaio from openSUSE talked about The big Change for openSUSE Leap 15.3, the new features on the upcoming release of this great distribution, bringing sources of SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) closer to the community distribution. I can not stress enough the importance of getting professional support on your GNU Health installations. Health informatics should not be taken lightly, and is key to have a solid implementation of the underlying operating system components, to get the highest levels of of security, availability and performance in GNU Health.

Axel Braun, board member openSUSE and core team member of GNU Health, focused on packaging GNU Health and the openSUSE Open Build Service (OBS). The presentation Hidden Gems – the easy way to GNU Health, put the stress on making GNU Health installation even easier, in a self-contained environment.

Sébastien Jogdone, leader of the Orthanc project, presented Using WebAssembly to render medical images, an open standard that allows to run C/C++ code on a web browser. This is great news since GNU Health integrates with Orthanc PACS server.

Qt and KDE projects in the spotlight

If we think about innovation in computing, we think about Qt and KDE. GNU Health integrates this bleeding edge technology in MyGNUHealth, the GNU Health Personal Health Record for desktop and mobile devices that uses Qt and Kirigami frameworks.

Aleix Pol, president of KDE e.V., presented Delivering Software like KDE, putting emphasis on delivering code that would be valid for many different platforms, specially mobile devices.

Cristián Maureira-Fredes, leader of the Qt for Python project, in his presentation Qt for Python: past, present, and future!, talked about the history and the upcoming developments in the project, such as PySide6, the latest Python package and development environment for Qt6. MyGNUHealth is a PySide application, so we’re very happy to have Cristián and Aleix on the team!

Dimitris Kardarakos, presented a key concept on modern applications, that is convergence, the property of the application to adapt to different platforms and geometries. His talk Desktop/mobile convergent applications with Kirigami explained how this framework KDE framework, that implements the KDE Human Interface Guidelines, helps the developers create convergent, consistent applications from the same codebase. MyGNUHealth is an example of a convergent application, to be used both in the desktop as in a mobile device.

I did go into details on MyGNUHealth design in my talk, MyGNUHealth The GNU Health Personal Health Record (PHR).

Argentina leading Public Health implementations with Libre Software

Many years of methodical and intense hard work in the areas of health informatics and public health have paid off. The team lead by Dr. Fernando Sassetti, head of the Public Health department of the National University of Entre Rios, has become a reference in the world of public health, Libre Software in the public administration, and implementations of GNU Health in many primary care centers and public hospitals in Argentina.

The National Scientific and Technological Promotion Bureau (Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica), chose Dr. Sassetti project based on GNU Health as the system for management of epidemics in municipalities. Health professionals were trained in GNU Health epidemiological surveillance system, as well as the contact tracing functionality.

Ingrid Spessotti and Fiorella de la Lama on their talk Outpatient follow-up and home care of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, explained some of the functionality and benefits of these GNU Health packages, for instance:

  • Real-time observatory and epidemiological surveillance
  • Automatic notification of notifiable disease to the National Ministry of Health
  • Reporting on cases and contacts
  • Calls registry, monitoring of signs and symptoms.
  • Risk factors on each individual (eg, chronic diseases, socioeonomic status…)
  • Geolocalization of suspected or confirmed cases
  • Clinical management and followup for both inpatient and outpatient cases.

Carli Scotta and Mario Puntin, presented the Design, development and implementation of a Dentistry module for GNU Health: experience at the Humberto D’Angelo Primary Care Center in Argentina, a package that will be the base for the upcoming dentistry functionality in GNU Health 3.8 series.

The GNU Health Social Medicine Awards 2020

GNU Health is a social project. In every GHCon, we recognize the people and organizations that work to deliver dignity to those who need it most around the world.

Our biggest congratulations to Prof. Angela Davis, Proactiva Open Arms and Diamante Municipality!

As you can see, we still can do great conferences in the context of the pandemic. I hope to see you and hug you in person at GHCon2021.

In the meantime, stay safe!

For this and past editions of GNUHealthCon, you can visit www.gnuhealthcon.org